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UH researchers study Hispanic children's activities, views on places to play
Date:2/15/2008

HOUSTON, Feb. 14, 2008Studies have shown that youthful playtimerunning in the park or playing ball in the schoolyardfades by the time children enter middle school years, sometimes with dangerous effects to their health. This is especially true if those children are low-income and Hispanic, studies show. Researchers with the University of Houston Department of Health and Human Performance want to know why, and what can be done about it.

An 18-month study will focus on 200 Hispanic fifth graders, monitor their daily physical activity and record their views on places to be active, such as parks or schoolyards. And because moms have so much influence in the home, the study will also examine how moms view those locations and how their views influence the childs likelihood of being active. The UH researchers will collaborate with Texas A&M University.

Were looking at what influences a childs desire to be active, or, in the case of moms, what makes them encourage their children to be active is it how safe they believe a nearby park is, the amount of lighting, the presence of gang activity, picnic tablesall these" said Norma Olvera, associate professor and principal investigator of the Urban Hispanic Perceptions of Environment and Activity among Kids (UH-PEAK) study. The study is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) through Active Living Research, an RWJF national program.

We believe that by understanding the relationship between perception of our environment and intention to be physically active, we can design more informed interventions for children who most need them, said Olvera.

The participants will come from six area schools. While traditional research methods, such as recording each childs height, weight and percentage of body fat, will be employed, the study also will get a boost from technology as special devices are given to participants to help monitor their physical activity. For example, all children will be
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Contact: Marisa Ramirez
mrcannon@uh.edu
713-743-8152
University of Houston
Source:Eurekalert

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